Tag Archives: Coalition

Stop the War Coalition demands emergency protest for Gaza | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

Bombing campaign: these images of explosions caused by Israeli attacks on Gaza were taken in 2020. Israel has been attacking Palestine since the former country was created in 1948.

Here’s another useful post from Beastrabban:

I got this email from Stop the War Coalition this afternoon:

Protest for Palestine – This Wednesday

Last week Israel once again launched a bombing campaign of the besieged Gaza strip. Over 3 days it killed at least 44 Palestinians, including 15 children. More than 300 Palestinians have been wounded and hundreds more displaced.

The bombs, for now, have stopped falling on Gaza, but the injustice continues. Palestinians need us to stand in solidarity, to protest and to take action.

Join us this Wednesday (10th August) to call for an end to Israel’s oppression and to assert the right of the Palestinian people to live in freedom with justice and equality.

Click Here for Full Details

Volunteer with Stop the War?

We need your help at the demonstration with our stall, stewarding, handing out placards and petitioning.

We’ll be meeting at the Downing Street at 5:30pm. Just reply to this email if you would like to help out. ‘

I can’t go, but I’m posting this up for anybody who can.

Source: Stop the War Coalition Calling for Emergency Protest for Gaza on Wednesday | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

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Russians rise to condemn #Ukraine war; #KeirStarmer puts down Labour MPs who do the same

Keir Starmer: Putin down his people (sorry – I couldn’t resist the pun).

People across Russia who have stood up in protest against their country’s invasion of Ukraine are winning praise from politicians in the UK and across the world.

What a stark contrast with the reaction of – for example – UK Labour leader Keir Starmer, who has forced 11 of his MPs to withdraw their protest against the war under threat of losing the party whip!

Here is video evidence of some of the protests in Russia, as citizens there exercised their right to free speech:

All of these protests if they took place in the UK, would soon be illegal under the Tory government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts legislation that is currently working its way through Parliament.

And it seems Labour’s current leadership tacitly supports such suppression; here’s how Starmer reacted to his MPs’ exercise of their right to free speech:

Yes, it seems he demanded that they withdraw their signatures from a statement by the Stop the War Coalition, condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The statement itself is straightforward:

“This dispute could and should be resolved peacefully, and that remains the only basis for a lasting settlement, rather than the imposition of military solutions. That it has not been resolved is not, however, the responsibility of the Russian or Ukrainian governments alone.

“The conflict is the product of thirty years of failed policies, including the expansion of NATO and US hegemony at the expense of other countries as well as major wars of aggression by the USA, Britain and other NATO powers which have undermined international law and the United Nations.

“The British government has played a provocative role in the present crisis, talking up war, decrying diplomacy as appeasement and escalating arms supplies and military deployments to Eastern Europe.

“If there is to be a return to diplomacy, as there should be, the British government should pledge to oppose any further eastward expansion of NATO and should encourage a return to the Minsk-2 agreement, already signed by both sides, by all parties as a basis for ending the crisis in relations between Ukraine and Russia.

“Beyond that, there now needs to be a unified effort to develop pan-European security arrangements which meet the needs of all states, something that should have been done when the Warsaw Pact was wound up at the end of the Cold War. The alternative is endless great power conflict with all the attendant waste of resources and danger of bloodshed and destruction.

“We send our solidarity to all those campaigning for an end to the war, often under very difficult conditions, in Russia and Ukraine. Stop the War can best support them by demanding a change in Britain’s own policy, which can be seen to have failed.”

Stop the War expanded on this in a message to followers:

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine overnight is a massive escalation in the conflict there. Stop the War is calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops and for an immediate ceasefire. Our statement is here and our resolution for union branches/CLPs here.

“The danger of war involving nuclear weapons is more real than previously and must be opposed. The real losers will be the ordinary people of Ukraine, Russia, and the rest of Europe.

“We should, however, take no lessons in peacemaking from our own government and its allies. They have brought us decades of escalating wars, each of which has been a failure. They have encouraged a growing arms race internationally. And they have set on a path of Nato expansion which has brought the military alliance to the borders of Russia, in contravention of agreements made at the end of the Cold War.

“Nato is not a defensive alliance but an aggressive one, centrally involved in wars in Afghanistan, Libya and Yugoslavia, and engaged in more and more ‘out of area operations’ including in the Indo-Pacific.

“Our government wants to hide its domestic problems behind its belligerent statements, and we can be certain that this will continue, at the same time that it will provide unlimited money for war but increase student loan repayments and cut the NHS.

“There is a surge or argument in favour of greater sanctions, including from those who purport to be anti war. But sanctions are not an alternative to war – they are economic warfare and therefore a prelude to war. We have seen this in Iraq where all they did was bring war closer, at the same time as bringing real suffering to the people of Iraq.

“As an anti-war and peace movement, our first priority is to stop war. This conflict has not developed in the last few weeks alone, but reflects a society where war is being turned to increasingly to solve other problems. However, we are also aware that this is a different situation from previous wars where our government has been directly involved in military action, and we need to do as much as we can to explain and discuss the issues with those around us.

“We are asking our members, supporters, groups and affiliates to do the following:

  1. Make sure our statement and resolution are disseminated as widely as possible.
  2.  Do everything to publicise and support our international meeting on Saturday 26th February and our in person rally on Wednesday 2nd March in Conway Hall, London.
  3. Hold urgent meetings in all localities – in person where possible – calling for withdrawal of Russian troops, ceasefire now and against Nato expansion.
  4. Attend the demos and actions in support of the NHS with placards linking cuts in public spending with money for war- you can download and print our new placard design from our website.
  5. Prepare for a day of action (tba) where we hold protests and vigils against the war.

“Please contact the office for materials and more information, and for speakers.

“Due to the high volume of traffic we are currently experiencing, we apologise for any difficulties you may encounter whilst trying to access our website today; please keep refreshing or try again later.”

This Writer leans toward the belief that Starmer – who only recently and loudly announced his support for Nato as Labour’s current policy (not that it ever changed from that) – has been incensed by the support of opposition to the organisation by Labour backbenchers.

So he did what bullies do – he threatened them with reprisals.

And to their shame, they caved in:

At a time of blatant hypocrisy by many western leaders, this is extraordinary – for reasons that seem clear:

And he drew comparisons between himself and Russian president Vladimir Putin in an ironic but entirely appropriate unintended consequence:

Damo expands on this in a well-argued ‘rant’ that critics of the Stop the War 11 should consider with care:

And what of Starmer himself? Having signalled a direction of travel, will he follow it through?

And how will this play out in the United Kingdom at large?

Well, with a by-election set to take place in Erdington, Birmingham on March 3, we shouldn’t have long to wait. And people are already making their wishes clear:

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#KeirStarmer wrong about #JeremyCorbyn AGAIN in #StopTheWar squabble

Facepalm: Jeremy Corbyn would be right to be embarrassed by the warmongering stupidity of his Labour leadership successor.

If Keir Starmer had any self-awareness at all, he’d die of embarrassment.

It’s only 12 days since he reportedly attacked Jeremy Corbyn over his membership of the Stop the War Coalition:

Keir Starmer has lashed out at Jeremy Corbyn insisting he was “wrong” on Nato.

Mr Starmer … launched a fierce attack on the Stop the War coalition, in which Mr Corbyn is a leading figure, accusing it of siding with Russia against Nato.

In an opinion article for the Guardian, he described the group as “naive” at best before adding Putin’s regime would see the group as “virtue signallers” who were “providing a smokescreen so it can go on beating up and jailing those brave individuals that dare to stand up to its despotism on the streets of Russia”.

This is the same Keir Starmer who stood up in Parliament to bang the jingo drum against Russia, demanding stronger action than Boris Johnson had proposed in a speech that all-but-egged the prime minister on to push the nuclear button (that he can’t do anyway without Joe Biden’s permission).

I’ve got the video somewhere; I’ll try to post it. It’s a thing to see.

But now consider the response to Russia’s incursion into Ukraine by the very same Stop the War Coalition, which makes more sense than he did in his entire speech:

Stop the War condemns the movement of Russian forces into eastern Ukraine and urges that they immediately withdraw, alongside the resumption of diplomatic negotiations to resolve the crisis.

This dispute could and should be resolved peacefully, and that remains the only basis for a lasting settlement, rather than the imposition of military solutions.  That it has not been resolved is not, however, the responsibility of the Russian or Ukrainian governments alone.

The conflict is the product of thirty years of failed policies, including the expansion of NATO and US hegemony at the expense of other countries as well as major wars of aggression by the USA, Britain and other NATO powers which have undermined international law and the United Nations.

The British government has played a provocative role in the present crisis, talking up war, decrying diplomacy as appeasement and escalating arms supplies and military deployments to Eastern Europe.

If there is to be a return to diplomacy, as there should be, the British government should pledge to oppose any further eastward expansion of NATO and should encourage a return to the Minsk-2 agreement, already signed by both sides, by all parties as a basis for ending the crisis in relations between Ukraine and Russia.

Beyond that, there now needs to be a unified effort to develop pan-European security arrangements which meet the needs of all states, something that should have been done when the Warsaw Pact was wound up at the end of the Cold War.  The alternative is endless great power conflict with all the attendant waste of resources and danger of bloodshed and destruction.

We send our solidarity to all those campaigning for an end to the war, often under very difficult conditions, in Russia and Ukraine.  Stop the War can best support them by demanding a change in Britain’s own policy, which can be seen to have failed.

Read & Share Now

If you agree with our statement and want to help us stop escalation in Ukraine you can do so by becoming a member of Stop the War today (if you’re not one already) or affiliating your local group or trade union branch.

Join Now

Thanks to my brother Beastrabban for providing the text. You can read his Weblog on it here.

Once again we see that Jeremy Corbyn’s instincts are right and Keir Starmer is an unelectable fool.

Source: Keir Starmer blasts ‘wrong’ Jeremy Corbyn and Stop The War Coalition over Nato – Mirror Online

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Bye bye Bibi? Coalition formed to oust Benjamin Netanyahu from Israeli premiership

Benjamin Netanyahu: on his way out.

As predicted by This Site, eight Israeli political parties have formed a coalition to take power from Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party and end his reign as prime minister.

The groups have little in common other than their opposition to Netanyahu, so he is likely to spend the days between now and a planned parliamentary vote to approve the new coalition trying to destabilise them.

But the agreement is historic in that it brings together the far-right Yamina Party, centrists Yesh Atid… and an Arab-Israeli party, Raam.

This will be the first time in decades that an Israeli Arab party has joined a ruling coalition.

But the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen has provided some wise words of caution:

No rational political enemy of Benjamin Netanyahu can underestimate his tenacity, ruthlessness and absolute determination to hold on to office. Until a new government with a new prime minister is sworn in, he will do all he can to stop it.

If he found himself leader of the opposition, he would do all he could to destabilise a coalition with a wafer-thin majority that would be trying to span the entire Israeli spectrum, from the nationalist right to the liberal left.

All that unites them is their desire to remove him from office.

No-one should expect big, new initiatives from a new government. Just surviving the onslaught Mr Netanyahu is undoubtedly planning will be a full-time job. His opponents will be hoping that his fall will continue in the Jerusalem courthouse where he is already on trial on serious corruption charges.

That last point is the most telling.

Netanyahu has been facing trial for fraud and bribery for a considerable period of time, but has apparently been using his position as prime minister to delay and frustrate proceedings.

If he loses prime ministerial power, he will find it much harder to do this and may actually be made to face justice.

He’ll do everything he can to prevent that.

And so, it seems, will his supporters:

It’s true that what Israel is getting won’t be an improvement on what it already has.

But the removal of Netanyahu will be a genuine step forward:

In the short-term, This Writer expects to see a lot more anti-Semitism accusations flying around. Pro-Netanyahu types like to use it as a false flag under which to attack their political opponents.

Israel is about to enter a new stage of its troubled history. It isn’t the start of a new Golden Age – but it could lead to something better.

Source: Israel opposition parties agree to form new unity government – BBC News

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Will Palestine benefit if Netanyahu is removed as Israeli PM? Probably not

Benjamin Netanyahu: in this image he’s wearing a smile very similar to Boris Johnson’s ‘duper’s delight’. Who had he just fooled? The Israeli electorate?

Israel’s hardline, far-right prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be out of a job and heading towards prison by tomorrow (June 2).

But it’s unlikely to mean any loosening of the (metaphorical) noose that his government is tightening around the necks of every Palestinian, as it involves a coalition between the equally hardline Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party. Both have previously worked with Netanyahu.

But it could signal the end of Netanyahu’s 12-year rule of Israel – and if so, it wouldn’t happen a day too soon.

The Associated Press – apparently still bruised from the bombing of its Gaza office – explains:

Netanyahu has become a polarizing figure since he was indicted on charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in late 2019. Each of the past four elections was seen as a referendum on Netanyahu’s fitness to rule, and each ended in deadlock.

Netanyahu is desperate to stay in power while he is on trial. He has used his office as a stage to rally his base and lash out against police, prosecutors and the media.

It says much about the state of Israeli politics that

Netanyahu even attempted to court a small Islamist Arab party but was thwarted by a small ultranationalist party with a racist anti-Arab agenda.

What hypocrisy! Netanyahu’s anti-Arab position is evident in his policy towards Palestine, and never mind all his efforts to court favour with neighbours like Saudi Arabia.

It seems clear that – for him – retaining power is everything. Boris Johnson may well be a keen student of his politics.

If he is ejected from the premiership, he may devote his time as Opposition leader to undermining the new government by exploiting the deep ideological differences among the parties forming the coalition.

But his ability to disrupt his own trial will be hugely diminished.

It would be ironic if the first major blow against the corruption that is sweeping the political world was landed by a hard-right-winger, against someone with equally extreme views.

Source: Netanyahu could lose PM job as rivals attempt to join forces

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Thinking of voting Liberal Democrat? Think again – for all our sakes

You may be getting tired of this image, but it adequately describes the Liberal Democrat offer to the electorate.

The Liberal Democrats are apparently enjoying a surge in support in marginal London constituencies – why? In office, they were a disaster for the UK.

Do people really have such short memories that they have forgotten the legacy of the Coalition government? Liberal Democrats helped ruin the UK – especially for young voters such as those who are being targeted by the party now.

As Rhiannon Lucy Coslett points out in The Guardian, the very first thing the Liberal Democrats did in government was renege on their election promises.

Where they had promised to abolish tuition fees, they tripled those fees instead. Current Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson gleefully supported this policy.

The Liberal Democrats also supported the Tory imposition of austerity on people whose income fell below a certain level. Young people most of all.

For further details of Ms Swinson’s “record of shame”, see:

Result: “Now, there are homeless people everywhere, food bank use has skyrocketed, the housing crisis has worsened, the right is now the far right, zero-hours contracts are common, and just over half the country [actually just over half those who voted] has voted to take away its citizens’ ability to live and work in 27 European countries.

“Racism has become normalised. An MP has been murdered, many others threatened and harassed. Disabled people, migrants and black British citizens face a hostile environment.”

These are consequences of Liberal Democrats in government, made possible by people voting for the Liberal Democrats.

Now, the Lib Dems are promising to revoke Article 50 and put a stop to Brexit. They know they will never take enough Parliamentary seats to make this possible.

But they also know that it will take votes away from Labour – online tactical voting tools are advising people to vote Lib Dem in marginals where Labour has the only candidate that could beat the Conservative, according to the 2017 results.

This means that, in many constituencies, a vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for a Conservative government.

And we can see that the Lib Dems would support the Tories more than Labour. Jo Swinson loathes Jeremy Corbyn, even though – as Ms Coslett notes – Labour is offering what the Liberal Democrats said they wanted: a second referendum. She adds:

“Her party is not focused on reversing generational injustice; on the contrary, it has enabled it. The Lib Dems – with Swinson as a coalition government minister – were happy to work with the Conservatives to slash benefits, cut social care and play havoc with the health service. Their political conscience only seemed to return when Brexit threatened their world view and their interests. Ideologically, they largely overlap with the vanishing “moderate” wing of the Tories – whose MPs are now defecting to the Lib Dem party.”

The message is clear: If you vote Liberal Democrat, you will get Tory. For young people, that is tantamount to self-harm.

Also: what’s this about new evidence which confirms that the Liberal Democrats sold voter data to the Remain campaign in 2016 for almost £100,000 being withheld from public scrutiny by the Information Commissioner’s Office?

And what’s this about the Liberal Democrats spamming voters with junk mail?

As I write this, the infamous Liberal Democrat policy – of putting bar charts on election literature claiming that their candidate is the only one who can beat the incumbents – is being ridiculed on the BBC’s Politics Live.

It seems they have been printing bar charts showing them as the biggest party in particular constituencies – by omitting the parties that had a higher vote share than them. The example quoted is notable for failing to show the Labour and Brexit Party vote.

So: take the evidence as a whole, rather than just Lib Dem literature, and the accurate picture of the Liberal Democrats is of a party that will promise anything to get into power and then break all those promises without compunction; a party that will lie to the electorate in order to secure votes; a party that will enable the Conservatives to get back into power, even though the majority of its supporters hate the Tories; and a party that will sell all our young people down the river once again – if it gets the opportunity.

You’d have to be crazy to vote Liberal Democrat.

Spread the word.

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Lib Dem leader candidates just handed by-election voters a great excuse NOT to support their party

Jo Swinson and Ed Davey: True blue?

How kind of Liberal Democrat leadership candidates to tell us all that they would cheerfully jump into bed with the Tories again – but wouldn’t enter a coalition with Labour.

Voters in the August 1 Brecon and Radnorshire by-election should draw the obvious conclusion: that a vote for the Liberal Democrats will not keep out the Tories.

In fact, only a vote for Labour will guarantee that the Conservatives will not benefit from the by-election.

It seems that, for once, the Liberal Democrat election merchandise really isn’t lying and it is a two-horse race!

But their horse has been lamed by the party’s leadership hopefuls. The Tories and the Brexit Party are both fielding donkeys, as we know.

That means Labour’s candidate should be the odds-on favourite.

If he isn’t, we’ll need to examine the reasons voters are being misled.

Here’s what Ms Swinson and Mr Davey said:

Liberal Democrat leadership hopefuls Jo Swinson and Sir Ed Davey have both ruled out propping up any future Corbyn-led Labour government.

Speaking in a Sky News head-to-head debate, the two MPs hoping to lead the Lib Dems said they would not join a coalition headed by Jeremy Corbyn.

“Absolutely not,” said Jo Swinson. “He’s a Brexiteer and is a danger to our country.”

“No coalition with Corbyn and Labour,” agreed Sir Ed.

“Partly because of his position on Brexit… but also he’s a very far left politician.

“The far left have their grasp of the Labour Party – they’re moving it to the far left – and that’s a really damaging threat to our economy.”

Labour chairman Ian Lavery told the Mirror:

“The bedroom tax, the tripling of tuition fees and the public sector pay freeze are just some of the disastrous policies that the Lib Dems and Conservatives shamefully imposed on our country.

“For Jo Swinson to suggest that her party could go back into coalition with the Conservatives tells you all you need to know about whose side the Lib Dems are really on.”

Let’s not stop at the bedroom tax, tuition fees and the public sector pay freeze, though! Why not list some other examples of Lib Dem collusion with the Tories?

There are a lot. This list is from Pride’s Purge:

  • Allowing private companies to cherry pick plum NHS contracts
  • Tax cuts for the rich
  • Increase in VAT
  • Sale of school playing fields
  • Secret courts
  • Closing libraries
  • Cutting education budgets
  • Privatisation of Royal Mail (Vince Cable’s personal project)
  • Closing Sure Start centres
  • Demonising the sick and disabled
  • Benefit cuts for cancer patients
  • The badger cull
  • Cuts to the Social Fund for people in financial crisis
  • Removal of employment protections for workers
  • Removal of legal aid

So the Lib Dems have already helped the Tories cause misery – and have admitted they may do it again. Why would anybody vote for them?

Source: Liberal Democrat leadership race: Jo Swinson and Ed Davey rule out Corbyn coalition | Politics News | Sky News

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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It’s time to kill this Lib Dem revival – by reminding voters of the facts

Amanda Broom, who defected from the Tories, and Daisy Benson (right) the Lib Dems’ prospective parliamentary candidate for Yeovil, pictured in Chard town centre. Once again the Liberal Democrats are winning votes by making promises they have no intention of keeping [Image: Adrian Sherratt for the Guardian].

It has been said that the Liberal Democrats are winning back votes in a big way because they are positioning themselves as the party of ‘Remain’; they want to stand for those who still want the UK to stay in the European Union.

What a bold statement!

As if the Liberal Democrats had any say at all in the matter. And even if they did, there is no guarantee that they would stand by their word.

Doesn’t anybody remember the Liberal Democrat promise not to increase tuition fees?

They had a chance to achieve this aim as part of the Coalition government they formed with the Conservatives – and what did they do instead?

They tripled tuition fees.

That isn’t all they did, either.

They sold off the Royal Mail – on the cheap – to hedge funds, if memory serves.

They supported the Tory austerity agenda to the hilt, no matter who it killed. That’s right – killed. The Liberal Democrats are as responsible for the Bedroom Tax deaths, the ESA deaths, and the jobseeker deaths, as Iain Duncan Smith and all his DWP minions.

Finally, voters need to remember that the current leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, has made it absolutely plain that his party would go back into coalition with the Conservatives at the first opportunity to do so.

The Conservatives have positioned themselves as the party of Brexit. They are determined to steer the UK out of the EU, no matter what.

So what do you think the Liberal Democrats will do, if they go into coalition with the Tories?

That’s right, Remainers – you are following a falsehood.

The Liberal Democrats will betray you at their very first opportunity.

So why on Earth are you voting for them?

Lib Dem strategists are pinning their hopes for rebuilding after the dire results in 2015 on a resurgence in the south-west, their former heartland, where the party lost all 10 of its seats in the last election. Since then, the party has been quietly notching up its best council byelection results in 20 years, with a net gain of 28 seats compared with net losses for Labour of four seats, Ukip of three and the Conservatives of 33 seats.

On paper, this part of the country does not look like a happy hunting ground for the fervently pro-remain party, because of the high number of leave voters in the south-west. Yet more than half of those byelections gains were in the West Country, most recently in Taunton and Teignbridge in early December, with the seats all seeing swings upwards of 20%.

Source: ‘Morale is really high’: Lib Dems scent revival in south-west | Politics | The Guardian

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Yes, Iain Duncan Smith – Vox Political HAS accused you of ‘outrageous action’. PROVE US WRONG

Iain Duncan Smith can’t prove us wrong. He deliberately refuses to collect the statistics that would confirm his claims – or ours.

Instead, he has claimed that This Blog (and presumably others) has accused him of “outrageous action”, without providing a scrap of evidence against the allegation.

This Writer is delighted that the Gentleman Ranker has tried to defend himself. I am currently working on a book covering this subject and his words may provide an excellent introduction.

The man we like to call RTU (Return To Unit – a Forces description of someone who trained to be an officer but was a washout) was responding to a request for information from Frank Field, chairman of the Commons work and pensions committee.

Mr Field had asked what data the DWP collects on the deaths of benefit claimants, in an attempt to find out whether there is any link between the work capability assessment (WCA) – carried out on claimants of Employment and Support Allowance and the Personal Independent Payment – and suicide, self-harm and mental ill-health.

The issue had been raised in research by Oxford University and Liverpool University entitled First Do No Harm.

This Blog reported on that document’s findings here – and you would be well-advised to refresh your memory of that article before you see the Secretary-in-a-State’s comments.

You should also read Vox Political‘s follow-up article in which a response from the Department for Work and Pensions – attempting to deny the research findings – is comprehensively disproved.

Iain Duncan Smith started writing his letter without a leg to stand on. Here it is – read it for yourself and see if you have any sympathy for his attitude.

Note that he admits the DWP has a “duty of care” to benefit claimants. It has taken years to get him to admit this and it will be very important if – for example – corporate manslaughter charges arise in the future.

Where he says the report’s authors admitted there was no evidence of a “causal link” between the WCA and suicide, he is of course being disingenuous. Iain Duncan Smith would not be satisfied with any evidence other than coroners’ findings that all 590 suicides mentioned by the report were attributed by the perpetrators to the work capability assessment. That was never going to happen.

But the report did examine other causes and eliminated them. While it states there is no direct evidence of a causal link between the WCA and suicide, the deaths certainly aren’t linked to any other cause.

Note also, Duncan Smith’s claim that the lack of a causal link was not reported in the media is not true.

The comment that there is no evidence the people with mental health problems underwent a WCA is covered in This Blog’s follow-up article, but for clarity I’ll repeat it here:

“Jonathan Portes of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) told This Writer that… the DWP’s response ‘reflects a basic misunderstanding of how you do this sort of analysis! Looking at WCA cases would be precisely wrong. You need to be able to control for selection – to do that here, [you] need to look at [the] whole population.

“’Let’s try [an] example. Does Coke make you fat? You can’t just look at people who drink coke & ask if they’re fatter, but if in areas where Coke [is]cheap, [and] people [are] on average fatter, *controlling for everything else*, that does tell you something.’

“So, in order to ensure that the correct cause is ascribed to any particular effect, those who carried out the study had to examine the health of the population as a whole, and eliminate elements that could relate to everybody, rather than just those who took the work capability assessment. They needed to rule out “unobserved confounding” – unseen elements contributing to the results.”

And that is precisely what they did.

Duncan Smith’s assertion that being sent back to work can “promote and protect health, and also reverse the harmful effects of long-term unemployment or prolonged sickness absence” is only accurate if the person doing the work is healthy enough for it – and, by definition, may not be applied to those whose mental ill-health has driven them to suicide.

Inaccurate WCA findings that claimants are “fit for work” or may be “fit for work” within a year of their assessment also mean that many ESA claimants will be sent back into the job market before they are healthy enough. In these cases, there can only be one result: Being sent back to work will make their health worse.

Of course it will; there is a reason they stopped working and claimed ESA in the first place. If that reason still applies, then sending them back to work can only have one result.

Anyone wanting to suggest that a large number of ESA claimants are committing fraud in order to avoid work should remind themselves of the facts: While a TUC survey has shown people think 27 per cent of the ‘welfare’ budget is claimed fraudulently, the government’s own figure is just 0.7 per cent. For ESA claimants it reduces even further, to 0.4 per cent. That’s one person out of 250, rather than roughly one in four – a big difference, especially when one considers the effect on their health of sending an ill person back to work prematurely, as Iain Duncan Smith appears to be advocating.

And then there is this:

160211IDSnote-outrageousaction

The handwriting is appalling so This Writer will try to translate: “NB: There are some out there in the media and social media who have used raw figures to accuse the govt of outrageous [sic] action. I would hope that the committee would not seek to follow suit. I note that having introduced the ESA and the WCA, the Labour Party now seeks to attack it as though they had nothing to do with it. Surely the committee should seek to recognise the good intent of those engaged in this difficult area.”

Those engaged in this area have no good intent whatsoever – let’s get that clear from the start. Their intentions are well-covered in previous articles on This Blog, which I will forward to Frank Field and his committee.

As for “some out there in the media and social media who… accuse the government of outrageous action” – I think he means me.

How nice to have official recognition and how clever of him to describe his own behaviour accurately.

Outrageous action? That’s exactly right.

Iain Duncan Smith’s department practises ‘chequebook euthanasia’ – WCA assessors use psychological ‘nudge’ techniques to push the mentally-ill towards suicide in order to reduce the “burden” on society caused by these “useless eaters”.

Even Frank Field – chairman of the work and pensions committee who contacted Iain Duncan Smith over the Oxford University and Liverpool University allegations – has raised concerns about this behaviour:

zTerminal

It is outrageous.

Even more outrageous is the fact that Iain Duncan Smith is trying to deny it.

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No, Robert Peston, Osborne was WRONG to impose austerity. Stop distorting the facts!

151002importexport

The BBC’s Tory economics editor Robert Peston is clutching at straws again.

He’s trying to persuade us all that everything we thought we knew about the UK’s economy during the Coalition Parliament was wrong, and that growth was much stronger than we thought. He is being economical with the truth, it seems.

He writes: “The ONS … says that the economy grew 1.5% in the general election year of 2010, then 2% after austerity bit in 2011 – revised up by the ONS from 1.6% – and then 1.2% in 2012, when the eurozone’s economic crisis imposed maximum pain on us.

“The previous picture, of austerity reducing growth from 1.9% in 2010, to 1.6% in 2011, to 0.7% in 2012, has been magicked away by the official statisticians.

“And they have also revised up their estimate of growth for 2013 from 1.7% to 2.2%.

“If these statistics are more reliable than the last lot, a particular school of Keynesian economists may choose to re-examine their contention that only a fool or a liar would say there is a legitimate debate about whether George Osborne’s policies were good or bad for the recovery.”

One of that school of Keynesian economists has hit back – hard. According to Professor Simon Wren-Lewis, Mr Peston’s argument is “just nonsense: complete and utter nonsense.”

He responds: “This ‘particular school’ has never based their assessment on observing what is still the weakest UK recovery since anyone can remember and looking for something to blame. They based it on what macro theory and the great majority of empirical studies tell us would be the impact of the fiscal austerity that happened. At the conservative end of such assessments is the OBR, who calculate austerity reduced GDP growth by 1% in each of the financial years 2011 and 2012. Estimates of this kind are completely independent of data revisions for one period in one country. We might doubt such estimates if they implied that without austerity we would have had implausibly rapid growth, but for this recovery they do not.”

This means that it doesn’t matter how well the ONS or Mr Peston says the economy performed – the simple fact that George Osborne had imposed austerity on the UK (unnecessarily) means growth was restricted by at least one per cent in the years he mentions.

Prof Wren-Lewis goes on to point out that the UK’s growth performance – even with these revisions – is still terrible because Peston has not taken population growth due to inward migration into account: “You really have to look at GDP per head to make comparative statements about this recovery.

As the ONS point out, this new data still shows that only in this year has GDP per head exceeded its pre-recession peak. Assuming recent data revisions have not changed this, average growth in GDP per head between 1955 and 2008 was about 2.25%. Any recovery from such a deep recession should have seen growth rates well in excess of this.

“Instead the revised data give us 1.1% growth in 2011, 0.5% in 2012, 1.5% in 2013. Only by 2014 had we got near the long term average growth rate. This is still an absolutely terrible performance for a recovery.”

Prof Wren-Lewis goes on to suggest that Peston might be saying as much himself if the Tory Government were not “breathing down the BBC’s neck”. The point that BBC political coverage is being distorted by Tory influence is a very good one, as anybody who has seen Question Time recently will know.

In fairness to Peston, he does point out that any extra economic growth did not translate into higher tax revenues for the government. Where did that money go (if it doesn’t exist only in the minds of ONS statisticians and Mr Peston)?

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